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Tales from a small town

Short stories about life in a small town. Non-fiction. Great reading.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

It was easier to sell weed in high school!

Yeah, this is a bad time for the car business. Our top salesmen are having a tough time making ends meet. Sure, they're selling cars, but not enough to sustain their lifestyle. In fact, they've gone weeks at a time without selling cars. They've got it rough - or so they think; but it's what they think that counts. They're barely eeking out a living using the advanced horse-trading techniques they've picked up along the way when times were good. Me? I don't know those advanced techniques. I've sold 2 cars. Both at full sticker price - but I've only sold 2 cars - in one month.

I've got a guy right now who's attempting to put the dealership I work at, and another GM dealership in another city in a bidding war over his trade-in. He's got a 6 year-old Blazer he bought in cash brand-new and right now it's got really low miles; always been garaged in the winter, he's never had kids or pets, doesn't smoke, and has record of every oil change he's ever gotten.

The owner of the dealership was in today, and heard about my situation. He tells me: "He's putting us in a bidding war. There's only one way to win a bidding war, and that's to be the last bidder. I'm going to tell you how to put yourself in that spot."

I'm thinking: "Cool."

This is what he says. He says, "Tell him these exact words, and these exact words only. Write down what the NADA book says his Blazer is worth: it's $6,000." (That's what he told me the other dealership would give him.)

"Then," says the owner of the dealership, "write down the most optimum price an insane person desperate to make a deal would give him: $8,000; put the $8,000 figure over the $6,000 figure. You with me so far?"


"OK. Point to the bottom figure, and tell him, 'It sounds to me like in order to earn your business, we've got to be close to this high figure for your trade-in, right?' He'll shake his head up and down in agreement while dollar sign dance in his eyes. Then say, 'In order for us to reach that figure, we need you to whip out your check-book right now.' "

I said, "What if he doesn't?"

"He won't. He didn't even bring his check book. (I forgot to mention: everyone knows he's a cash buyer.) He didn't bring his check book because we're in the bidding stage still; there's no reason for him to bring it. It's not here. That's OK. You're building a sense of urgency. With me?"

"Yup - sense of urgency."

"OK, when he tells you he doesn't have his check book, you ask him, 'All things being equal, between us and them, which dealership would you buy from - in other words, if the other dealership gave you the exact same deal, would you buy from us or them?' "

"Why's that important?"

"You're springing a trap."


"There's no way in hell I'm giving this guy $8,000 for a 6 year-old Blazer."


"But, I'm putting you in position as last bidder, and that's where you want to be. He'll go to the other dealership, and tell them we'll give him $8,000 for his Blazer. They'll laugh him off the lot, thinking either he's lying or we're lying - doesn't matter - they won't give him $8,000 for his Blazer and I know it."

"Yeah, but...."

"Shhhhh. Don't worry. He'll come back and want the $8,000 trade-in. You tell him to whip out his check book because we can't write an offer without the check book present. Make sure when he calls you tommorow, that you tell him to bring his trade-in and check book. When he whips out the check book, tell him you've got to make a few calls to make it happen. Dave knows what's going on. Dave will tell you to tell him, 'Good news - we can beat the other dealership's trade-in, and we can get exactly the car you want in 24 hours." (Neither dealership has exactly what he wants.)

"How is going from $8,000 back down to $6,100 good news?"

"Remind him of the commitment he made to you yesterday, remember? When you asked him, 'All things being equal, where would you buy your car?' Then remind him that we're beating the other dealer's trade-in, so all things aren't equal, we're ahead. Then remind him that high gas prices are killing our SUV sales and because that's exactly the reason why he's trading his Blazer, don't you think it'll be tough for him to get more than what we're offering at the other dealership? He's already been through alot with all that driving; he's ready, and he knows he's getting top dollar - it's your job to remind him of that."

It was easier selling weed in high school!